Wednesday, September 25, 2013

End of Summer

The summer season is now officially over and we have about a week before the autumn seekers show up. We went out in style this morning with 14 guests and even Jack got a curtain call by guests who had read the blog prior to their visit and asked to meet him. When I went to get him my husband said, "but we're watching Arsenal". For those of you not in the know, that is an English football side. Jack ignored me completely and sat unmoving on the back of the sofa behind Peter's head. "It's alright Jack," said my husband, "I'll record it for you." Reluctantly he trotted over to me but was mollified when he realised we were headed to 'the big house' as the inn is called in our family. No pets allowed. We all live in cozy chaos in the cottage next to the inn and so it was with a great deal of excitement that he bounded into the sunroom to be cooed over by three ladies who admired his polka dotted belly and newly grown mullet hairdo and whiskers. He's not an entirely normal looking Jack Russell, it has to be said, but he has his charms. The ladies in the drugstore drive through window like him and keep biscuits for him. He's used to the drive through window at the bank where they give all the dogs biscuits and so when we went to the drugstore he expected his treat and was quite put out when all we got were pills. Since then he gets a biscuit there too. He won't eat them of course - well, look - there isn't time to play bad bikkie in the car and we won't eat one without the game which, it appears, has changed since I saw it last. Peter gets up first and that's when they play bad bikkie in the kitchen. Recently when Jack has asked me for a treat I make an attempt to please him by crawling on the floor and poking him with the biscuit but clearly it has become more complicated and he just looks at me with a "come on, play it properly" look. There's a lot for me to catch up on now that summer is over.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Blood pressure test

I'm not a very doctor-y sort of person. The circumstances have to be pretty dire before I put myself into the hands of one. However, since breaking a tooth I've been feeling mortal. So when I felt sort of lightheaded and off kilter, I asked my husband to take my blood pressure. I don't even know why we have this machine but we do - I think it has something to do with the exercise bike I pile my ironing on - anyhow, I thought I'd use it. He wrapped up my arm and started pumping. What the .. "Take it off! Take it off!" I shouted, headlines like," Woman explodes in Maine B&B, glasses found in New Hampshire" appearing in front of my bugged out eyes. "I can't it's automatic!" he shouted back, at which point the thing cut off and peace was restored. Having doubts as to the wisdom of being thrust into a state of panic prior to a blood pressure reading became moot when I realised that we had no idea what the reading meant. That was a couple of days ago. This morning, waiting for guests to arrive at the table I thought I'd check out the numbers on the computer. So I got this chart on screen which said to make a line between the 2 numbers to find out ....something. So I did. The only thing on the chart below my number was a section called 'coma' and under that, 'DEATH'. I figured that if my blood pressure was so low when I was in a panic that my chances of making it through breakfast service were slim. Hoping I wouldn't croak before the pancakes were ready, I tried to stave off panic by thinking who to leave my All-clad pots and pans to in my will. I decided on my current guests, as a little thank you for calling 911 when I fell over dead in the kitchen. After everyone left I summoned my husband to tell him the bad news. I showed him the chart and my position on the bottom of it next to coma. I told him about the All-clad pots. He pointed out that I was drawing a line between the same set of numbers and that if I did it correctly I was in the normal zone. "Normal as far as your blood pressure goes, that is," he amended.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is Thirteen Unlucky?

Things are wacky around here. For a start, the leaves are turning. Then there are no Monarch butterflies. It's felt like September for a couple of weeks now which is odd, and then there's the business with 13. I'm not superstitious at all but I've had 3 mornings with 13 at the table, a fact I made note of not because I'm spooked by 13, but because I have 12 of everything that goes on the table and 13 is a pain in the neck plus it means moving chairs in from the kitchen blah dee blah. So on the first 13 morning, I'm in my kitchen with stuff in the oven, stuff on the stove and 13 people at the table. My feet feel wet. My feet feel wet? I look down and see that hot soapy water is coming out of the bottom of the dishwasher. While I am trying to take this in, I turn to the double sink and see that water is coming up from both drains. I stood transfixed thinking to myself, 'well, if you're going to have an idea, now would be a good time'. And so it came to me to TURN OFF THE DISHWASHER. I sloshed around the kitchen throwing tea towels in my wake and managed to deliver breakfast to the unsuspecting baker's dozen. A week or so later there were 13 guests again. Keeping a wary eye on the plumbing, I was taken by surprise when my tooth fell out. That would be the one that makes you look like a homeless bag lady when you smile. No doubt my guests wondered why I suddenly was doing a geisha impersonation every time I was called upon to speak or smile. A couple of days later, it was with a good deal of trepidation that I set the table for 13. But, I cooked breakfast without drowning or setting myself on fire and my bodily parts stayed where they belonged and so I was taken off guard when one of my guests turned to me and said, "was that your horse?" "Horse?" I said. Thirteen heads nodded. "The horse last night" they repeated. "Horse?" I said again. I couldn't seem to say anything else. Were they saying "Horse"? "The horse that came down the driveway last night" someone said and they all nodded at me, smiling and waiting for an explanation. "Horse?" I said. All the people on the north side of the house told how a horse walked down the driveway and around the back of the house. The people on the south side reported how a horse walked down the back drive and disappeared. I remembered how the sensor light on the back of the house had come on in the night and how our Jack Russell barked and how we said rather crossly, "go to bed, Jack. There's nothing there." We heard him mumbling in his bed something about there's a bloody great horse in the driveway, but you know how Jack Russells are, and so we ignored him. There is no end to this story. A horse walked down my driveway in the middle of the night and 13 people and a Jack Russell saw him.

Monday, July 22, 2013

How to clean old glass

Here's a spooky little household tip for you.  I have some decanters that I use on the breakfast table and they were beginning to look a little cloudy despite vigorous attacks with bottle brushes, baking soda, detergent and vinegar.  So I went to my best friend Google and was told that the foolproof way to solve my problem is with denture cleaners.  So off to the supermarket I go only to be confronted with the same overwhelming choices that make purchasing toothpaste an activity requiring a stiff drink at its completion.  Do I want protection from cavities, gum disease or plaque? Do I want my teeth to blind onlookers with their creepy whiteness or do I want to be refreshed?  It would appear our dentally challenged friends face the same questions which required me to stand longer than I found comfortable in the 'she's got false teeth' aisle.  When a neighbour approached to chat I felt her gaze linger longer than was absolutely necessary on my (by now) clenched teeth.  I wasn't so craven as to announce in a loud voice that I was buying denture cleaning effervescent tablets to clean my antique decanters , much as I wanted to.  I did however pretend that I had found myself in the wrong aisle and left the store with toothpaste for smokers.  I don't smoke.  So.  Cloudy decanters it will have to be.  Next morning I poured some cranberry juice into the worst of them, served it up and hoped that no one would notice.  Imagine my surprise when the empty decanter came back to the kitchen at the end of breakfast service sparkling and clear!  I repeated the exercise on all of my glass.  It works.  But I now feel myself disinclined to drink cranberry juice. 
Speaking of spooky, a guest informed me yesterday that she had had a late night chat with the builder of my house.  My house was built in 1774.  Was this, I found myself wondering, the result of too much cranberry juice or has old Abijah Waterman returned to give me a hand running the inn? 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Japanese Beetles

I'm battling Japanese Beetles who each year munch the Rosa Rugosas by the front door.  I've developed a system which works well enough.  I keep a little jug of water secreted behind the jen-you-wine antique concrete Grecian urn which sits nearby and whenever I pass by I knock a few bugs into it and manage to keep ahead of the devastation.  The problem is that the bugs don't die.  For days.  Now, much as I loathe them, I'm not a psycho weirdo about it and I'm not really into torturing anybody. So this year I refined my approach.  I added multi-purpose detergent to the mix and in addition to being instantly lethal, adds an  aroma of cleanliness to my doorstep.  Yesterday during a pleasantly murderous half hour my attention wandered to the bumble bees covering the shrubs.  They rumbled up in the usual bumble bee way but when they reached the yolky yellow center of the roses they upped the pitch of their buzz and as they rolled about emitted a high bzzzzzz that was an hilarious bee squeal of ecstasy.  And it was then that my new guests appeared. I was forced to explain that their room was not quite ready mainly because I had been watching bumble bees.  As I said this I was frantically trying to push the jug of dead beetles back into their hiding place with my foot.  My guests seemed of a mind to accept my lack of professionalism and chalk it up to charming eccentricity and  I didn't want to jeopardize their good will by showing myself to be the slaughterer of innocents.  Sadly, I miscalculated with the last push of the jug and it fell over, engulfing their New York City shoes, which probably cost more than my car,  in a virulent bright blue Lysol liquid studded with the corpses of countless beetle bugs.  Apologies and explanations are pointless in a situation like this, don't you find?  "Welcome to Blue Skye" I said brightly.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gardening et moi

I spent the morning digging in our neglected vegetable patch to put in some plants someone gave us as a present of sorts and which I felt obliged to plant.  I forked and spaded, sieved and raked, fed fertilizer and planted.  I put in pea canes, strung miles of green twine, gently tied loose knots so as not to injure tender stalks.  I squished slugs and slapped flies all while wearing a hat that made me look like my grandfather, a sweatshirt that was too hot and wellies that were cooking my feet.   Now here's what I want to know:  why would anyone want to do this?  Why, when there are perfectly good green grocers and farm shops would a person WANT to spend the morning doing this? All you end up with is your food covered in dirt and bugs. I simply don't get it.  At the farm shop everything is clean and washed and pretty.  Not wormy and sluggy and muddy.  Have you ever grown your own kale?  Have you? Huh?  Have you ever watched the little white worms float to the surface when you cook it?  How about have you ever noticed the little white worms AFTER YOU HAVE ALREADY EATEN SOME OF YOUR DELICIOUS HOME GROWN KALE?????  And don't tell me I didn't wash it well enough.  Trust me.  I washed it.   But of course, we're all organic now and I washed it in water.  Probably I was supposed to use aloe vera and the juice of freshly squeezed rosehips and fairy dust.  So.  I let organic farmers do my farming. That's what organic farmers are FOR.  And if you're going to give me a present, give me something that doesn't come with slugs included.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Living in Maine

It has been known for Maine residents to make snide allusions to our state slogan, "Maine.  The way life should be".  Such comments are usually made when we find ourselves trying to find our car under a mountain of snow or trying to start a generator in a blizzard.  But yesterday I found myself thinking of our slogan with nary a touch of cynicism. 

When we bought Blue Skye, the sellers told us that the appliances were all old and ready for the knacker's yard.  And so it was that one by one, dishwashers, refrigerators, stoves and freezers all ended their days trundling up the drive in the back of our pickup on the way to the dump.  But not the enormous Maytag washer and dryer in the basement.  These gentle giants have run many times daily for twelve years now.  A few years ago I stuffed an enormous comforter in the washer.  It was well beyond anything sensible to try and wash and the machine baulked.  I found the file given to me by the last owners and discovered that the machine had been purchased in Waldoboro 25 years ago.  It was not with a great deal of confidence that I telephoned the number to discover that the Maytag guy was still in business.   I  told him that I had "a complaint".  "Really?" he said.  I told him that my 25 year old washing machine had stopped working. I thought he'd laugh and tell me to go soak my head.   "I'll come have a look" he said.  "OK" I said, getting a pencil, when can you come?"  "I can come now, if you like" he said.  In about 20 minutes he arrived and in about 10 minutes the machine was sloshing away as usual.  Yesterday, a few thousand loads of laundry later, my dryer started making a screechy sound.  I called the Maytag guy."  I wondered if his phone had rung since I called the last time because he seemed to know who I was right away.  "It's the dryer" I said.  "It's doing this" and I imitated the sound.  "Well, I've got to come out that way today so I'll call in".  In less than 15 minutes his car pulled into the driveway.  And in less time than that, a pile of coins and a mountain of fluff were placed without comment on the top of the dryer and a new wheel doodad was installed and the dryer purred to life.  "You're a genius" I murmured.  "Naw," he said.  "I used to have one of these."  I wanted to ask how it had died, but it seemed a bit personal somehow, so I just said, "Well, thanks again".   No doubt the next owners will look at these antique appliances (and the wooden counter tops in the kitchen amongst many other things) and replace them with acres of stainless steel and granite and Maine will be a little less like life as it should be. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring Spring Beautiful Spring

Apologies to all who clicked on my blog only to find that I wasn't there. I notice all my followers have disappeared, having nothing to follow.    I'm not sure where I was.  Under a snow bank somewhere I expect.  The inn was closed.  I was closed.   
But now it's spring, the blackbirds came back to me, the geese are nesting, cardinals tap at my window, nuthatches have set up house in the bluebird box and every day brings a new arrival to our feeder.  My breakfast table is again filled with guests and I've returned to my post in the kitchen, happily setting tea towels alight and pouring orange juice into my shoes. 

But this morning something happened that was so weird that I had to tell somebody and all my guests have checked out - so here I am.  I was telephoning through a credit card payment and apparently (!) misdialed and got instead an extremely chirpy woman who announced rather improbably that I had reached the palace of pleasure and pain.  I could hear sounds of somebody washing dishes in the background while she assured me that I was about to experience such delight and agony as to be indescribable.  I hung up but can't help wondering about her and about this peculiar world I find myself in.  There is nobody here but me.  Would she tell me to get a hammer and bang myself on the head?  Why would I do that?  Why would I require some lady busily washing her dishes to tell me to do that?  Please don't answer these questions.  Anyhow, I have to go.  My computer informs me that I've got mail.  It's from Anthony Weiner.  I wonder what he wants.